Ahhhhh…life is good right now. I know it’s just a cliche, the whole ‘life is good’ phrase, but it just really fits where I’m at right now. I’m loving my classes, I have a solid group of friends, and I am so excited to learn more about God. The last few days I’ve had time to sit back and think about all the blessings I’ve had these past few weeks, and they are numerous! A supportive family, travel safety, friends, delicious food, and fantastic classes, just to name a few. Three years ago I never would have imagined that I would be spending the last half of my freshman year studying the Bible in Jerusalem, or that I would be doing with it with such a great group of people. I really am thankful for all that God has provided for me. I’m doing my best to take a moment each day and thank Him for them, because without Him none of this would even be possible. 

I am now done with classes for the week! Woohoo! I do have a field study (11 hour class in the field) on Sunday, but I still have tomorrow and Saturday to get a bunch done and spend some more time exploring the city. My classes are definitely going to be intense, but I like a challenge. I think what’s best about them is that they are making me think outside of the box. For example, my Islamic Thought and Culture is being taught by a practicing Jew. Interesting, right? That’s actually my favorite class because I’m starting to understand their culture and I’m intrigued by how the Islamic religion came about. My next favorite class is Parables of Jesus and Rabbinic Meshalim, which is a seminar class. That means that’s it is mostly a forum for discussion, and I have already enjoyed reading some of the Classical Jewish Literature and trying to understand them as a class. That class is taught by Rabbi Moshe, who all of us are enjoying already! Those two are going to be my easiest classes, and they are only once a week which is a schedule I enjoy! 
The two classes that are going to be difficult are my Physical Settings of the Bible class and the History of the Church in the East. Physical Settings is a lot of reading and map work, along with 6 tests and a 10 page paper. I don’t remember the last time I wrote that long of a paper, so that will be a challenge. However, I’m just trying to think of it as two 5 page papers, and then it doesn’t seem so daunting. However, I’ve been told that this class is one that you will remember the material because almost half the class is out in the field studying what we are talking about in the class. We also go to so many different places in Israel and Jordan, so I will enjoy being able to visit these places and learn about them at the same time. History of the Church in the East is a class that I have no background in. I sat for the entire 2 1/2 hours with a confused look on my face, along with about half the class. The teacher has a thick German accent, and it doesn’t help that I have never even heard of a lot of the material she is teaching. I’m going to stick it out though because I know that if I work hard at it I will actually be able to learn something from the class, and it will be rewarding at the end. 
It’s definitely a relief to have the first week of classes over with! I always dread the syllabus shock and worrying about if I will have friends in my class. The friends part was easy because there’s only about 32 of us on campus, so I have many of them in all of my classes. We have all been doing group outings this week, which has made the days a lot more fun than just doing homework! One day we went to the New City and ate gelato while searching for the army surplus store. It turns out it is a bunch of knock-off Israeli army gear, but it was worth wandering around looking for! And last night we had cookie night (happens every Wedsnesday), then we all shared our favorite youtube videos, and we finished the night by watching Indiana Jones on the projector. Then today we went shopping in the Mamilla Mall, a Westernized underground mall with places like A&F and Billabong, and then hung around eating gelato for an hour. I think it’s these moments that make this such a great experience already. Being able to goof off with friends and enjoy a new city: there’s just nothing like it! 
I’m looking forward to our field study this weekend because we spend 11 hours learning about the Old Testament and New Testament Jerusalem. It’s going to be amazing to hear Dr. Wright teach us about how the city has changed over the past thousands of years. I always gain a new appreciation for it whenever I hear him talk because his passion for this city is evident. 
Okay, so here is some exciting news: I might be coaching a middle school girls soccer team at the Beit Jala school in Bethlehem! I am participating in field study, and I decided to work with the Beit Jala School, which is a school run by Christians in order to be a ministry and also give them an American education. Last night I was talking to the couple that runs the school, and I asked if they had any opportunities with sports. Terry (the husband) then asks, ‘You know anything about soccer?’ And of course, I told him that I had played growing up and into high school. He then proceeded to tell me that he had at least 4 girls come up this past week and ask if they could have a soccer team and he told them they could if they found a coach. And then there I was! What a cool God thing! Although I’m a bit nervous about coaching a real team (with actual games), I am so excited about this opportunity that I have before me! Hopefully I can get enough girls to play so that we have a team! Prayers will be appreciated as this process is just beginning. 
Well, that’s my week. I know there’s not as much to talk about as the whirlwind Europe travel, but it’s really nice to actual feel at home and be settled in. I’m getting into a routine, and that is helping manage my stress. 
Romans 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

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